Utah’s early literacy program works–here’s why

Latest evaluation of statewide early literacy program shows high correlation with kindergarten readiness compared to control group

A statewide kindergarten readiness initiative in Utah is helping children develop early literacy skills before they enter kindergarten, and is doing so at a higher rate than among children who are not in the program.

The state’s UPSTART program, developed by the nonprofit Waterford Institute, uses an early literacy curriculum delivered digitally in the home.

A report analyzing the program’s fifth year suggests that technology has considerable merit for delivering curriculum, teaching critical early reading skills that are known predictors of later school performance, and closing early learning gaps that disproportionately affect disadvantaged children.…Read More

How to promote literacy skills in the digital age

Apps that claim to teach deep literacy skills can be misleading.

Digital apps that claim to teach children important reading and literacy skills do not always impart higher-level abilities that children need to develop strong reading skills, according to a report from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Most of the skills these apps target are very basic, and parents and educators often do not have in-depth—or any—knowledge of how the apps work or if they work at all, claims the report, “Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West.”

This past spring, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading asked the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the New America Foundation to conduct a nationwide scan of technology-based products aimed at improving the early literacy skills of children from birth through age 8.…Read More

Research finds text-messaging improves children’s spelling skills

Teens’ text-messaging habits are legion. They send thousands upon thousands of texts per month, and every once in a while, some unfortunate parents make the headlines when they get a bill in the mail for thousands upon thousands of dollars in texting charges. The increasing use of text-messaging by teens–and increasingly often, by younger children–has given some people cause for concern. They argue that the abbreviations used in texting are detrimental to literacy development. Spelling, grammar, phrasing–these are all somehow poised to suffer, critics of texting contend, because of the use of shortened words and sentences. Soon, they predict, students’ essays will be filled with LOLs and L8Rs. But a new study from Coventry University finds no evidence that having access to mobile phones harms children’s literacy skills, reports ReadWriteWeb. In fact, the research suggests that texting abbreviations or “textisms” may actually aid reading, writing and spelling skills…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

Ten steps for better media literacy skills

Media literacy skills are used for more than just research papers.

As policy makers work to increase the number of U.S. households with broadband access, many are realizing it’s not enough for people to be able to access information online and through various media outlets; they also need the ability to analyze the information they find for accuracy and credibility—a 21st-century skill not every child or adult possesses.

A new white paper, “Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action,” by Renee Hobbs, founder of Temple University’s Media Education Lab, now gives policy makers and education leaders a detailed plan to boost media literacy skills in their communities.

“Existing paradigms in technology education must be shifted towards a focus on critical thinking and communication skills and away from ‘gee-whiz’ gaping over new technology tools,” Hobbs said. “An effective community education movement needs a shared vision. This report offers recommendations that involve many stakeholders, each participating in a way that supports the whole community.”…Read More